Right from the beginning, as we see Nada walking around Los Angeles with his backpack, the movie sets a particular mood: Something is not quite right. While Nada appears to be a happy-go-lucky kind of guy, the city is not happy and it is not too kind to happy-go-lucky kind of guys. Quite the contrary, there is a sense of impending doom in the air: Poverty is rampant, helicopters fly around the city and street preachers speak of soulless beings ruling the world.
Seeking shelter Nada enters an empty church and discovers a hidden box. In an alley, he opens the box and finds dozens of sunglasses. Taking one, he hides the box of remaining sunglasses in a garbage can.
Nada discovers the sunglasses have unique properties. After putting on a pair, he sees the world as it really is and discovers that it is not what it seems. Media and advertising hide constant subliminal totalitarian commands to obey and conform. When viewing those of wealth and authority Nada discovers they're not human.
We’re living in two worlds, you and I.
There’s the world we see (or are made to see) and then there’s the one we sense (and occasionally catch a glimpse of), the latter of which is a far cry from the propaganda-driven reality manufactured by the government and its corporate sponsors, including the media. Indeed, what most people perceive as life in a privileged, progressive and free society — is a far cry from reality, where economic inequality is growing, real agendas and real power are buried beneath layers of Orwellian doublespeak and corporate obfuscation, and "freedom," such that it is, is meted out in small, legalistic doses by militarized police armed to the teeth.
All is not as it seems.